Women face hell in stone mining

Women in the Western Area Rural District along the Freetown Peninsula are becoming too obvious and facing hell in stone mining for daily survival.

By Isaac Kamara

A survey undertaken by this medium reveals unlike in previous years when women are sparse in stone mining, many now, because of lack, are being forced to take on the hard laborious trade much to their peril.

A woman at Bonga Wharf community that identified herself as Adama Fullah said she joined in the trade two years ago.
“I’m a widow with three children, the brother of my late husband who has been helping me is now exhausted due to the high cost of living,” she said, stating that had she engaged in the trade, her children would have, probably, starved to death.

Adama lamented how hard and tedious the work is and could not as men do it because as a woman, she lacks the strength.

“It takes a lot of effort and struggle to get a 50kg bag of broken stones that I would sell every three days to keep my home going,” she lamented.

The Chairman of Bonga Wharf stone miners, Abdul Scott, said that the rate at which women are infiltrating the trade is unimaginable and very worrying.

“They are unable to do the hardest work but they keep coming in to avoid being starved of food and some other home needs,” he averred, adding that most times the men would break the bigger stones and sell to them, which they inturn break into smaller pieces of granite for onward sales with minimal profit.

Abdul said stone mining doesn’t befit women, noting how even men who engage in the work for a long period of years most times end up suffering from many ailments, including arthritis.
“So it is pathetic to see women coming into such difficult trade,” he stated.

Another location at Yams Farm community called Upper New York is also another stone mining point with a lot of women led by a chairlady, Marie Kaisamba, who said they have formed themselves into groups so that the work wouldn’t be tedious.

Man jailed for life for sexual assault of a child

Appeal Court Judge presiding over cases at the Sexual Offences Model Court, Hon. Justice Alhaji Mohamed Momo-Jah Stevens (JA) has today sentenced Joseph Lamin, a Charcoal Burner, for sexual assault of a 9-year-old girl.

Hon. Justice Alhaji Mohamed Momo-Jah Stevens

According to the particulars of offence, Joseph Lamin who was residing at York Road in Waterloo, on the 28th day of July, 2020 engaged in an act of sexual penetration of one Mary Wilson (not real name), a child. He was brought before the Sexual Offences Model Court for sexual penetration contrary to section 19 of the Sexual Offences Act No. 12 of 2012 as repealed and replaced by section 4 of the Sexual Offences (amendment) Act of 2019, Act No. 8 of 2019.

Representing the victim, state counsel MP Sesay, applied for trial by a Judge alone instead of a Judge and Jury pursuant to Section 144 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1965 as repealed and replaced by section 3 of the Criminal Procedure (amendment) Act of 1981. His application was granted.

The Medical report endorsed by Dr. O. Claudius-Cole revealed that the victim was in severe pain and was immediately rushed to the theatre room for surgery. It further revealed that there were several bruises on her cheeks and the left side of her face close to the mouth.

“Hymen was completely ruptured and the vaginia and anus was just one big hole. The rectum and anus were torn,” the medical report stated.

In her testimony, the victim told the court that after they were attacked by three unknown persons at around 3am in the morning, she escaped and took refuge in a nearby makeshift structure but she was chased by the accused person and two of his colleagues.

She went on to explain that she was ‘gang-raped’ wherein her virginity was destroyed. According to her, the two others ran away but the police later apprehended accused Mohamed Lamin. She said after the surgery, she was later hospitalised for one month and two weeks.

Four witnesses testified including the police investigator from the Water Police Family Support Unit who explained their visit to the crime scene.

Accused Joseph Lamin who pleaded not guilty relied on his statement at the police and there was no witness to that effect. He was represented by C. Taylor Young from the Legal Aid Board who later made his plea in mitigation.

The accused committed the offence in the company of another person or persons, before or after the commission of the offence the accused used a knife and threatened the victim to be quite.

Sierra Leoneans are not happy! Global Happiness report

Sierra Leone ranked least happy among countries in the Mano River Union as well as among the least happy in Africa according to the Global Happiness Levels in 2021.

At 3.8 percent, Sierra Leone ranked below Guinea, The Gambia, Liberia and Ivory Coast which rank at 5%, 5.1%, 4.6%, and 5.3% respectively.

The report looks at more intangible aspects, collecting survey responses around:

  • Social support
  • Freedom to make life choices
  • Generosity
  • Perceptions of government/ business corruption
  • Positive or negative affects (Recent experience of emotions)

It also takes into consideration the negative impact measure of the COVID-19 pandemic on happiness levels, such as exacerbating mental health risks. In addition, such measurements varied depending on each country’s response to the crisis.

“It’s generally understood that having enough money to cover your needs and wants can help you live a relatively happy, comfortable life—and recent research shows this relationship may increase linearly as income levels grow, as well.

“However, there’s much more to it than that. Happiness levels depend not just on financial security, but also broader perceptions of one’s social support, personal freedom, and more.”

The series of map pulls data from the World Happiness Report to uncover the average scores of 149 countries between 2018-2020, and which ones emerged the happiest or unhappiest, and also look at the most and least improved countries in every region.

Efforts are however being made in Sierra Leone to address the impact of Covid-19 as well as creating the enabling environment for sustainable investment in the country.

According to Desmond Koroma, a businessman in Freetown, the factors affecting sustainable economic growth in the country and is the country’s reliance on the mining sector as well as the uneven international trade.

For us to be happy there need to be jobs, peace, and stability,” he lamented, adding that the Government is working hard to fill in the gaps but there are two many challenges to address.

“Presently the country is in high momentum,” he noted, citing the country’s national soccer team successful qualification for the African Nations Cup.

Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio Congratulates Leone Stars: Urges Sierra Leoneans to Dream Big

President Julius Maada Bio has congratulated Leone Stars on their 1-0 victory over Benin in the crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Conakry, Guinea, urging the nation, from his balcony at State House, to draw inspiration from the win to think big.

Striker Kei Kamara, who had always wished for this feat before his retirement, scored the first-half penalty in the nineteenth minute to secure a place for the national team at the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 1996.

“We will continue to strive for higher height, no more small dreams. When I promise, I deliver. I promised that I will take Leone Stars again to the continental stage. This did not come to me as a surprise at all. I believe the boys and I have inspired them enough in the same way I have always wanted to inspire this nation.

“We are a football-loving nation, and I am incredibly happy about this. Just as we trust and believe in ourselves, even out of the football field we can also take this nation to the international level,” he said in a short video released after the match.

“Congratulations to Sierra Leone. We are a football-loving nation, and today, our boys have made history. My government is committed to promoting football and other sports disciplines,” president Bio wrote on Twitter.

Football observers have said that the period 1993 to 1996 can be considered a golden era for Sierra Leone football, arguing that no other Leone Stars team had before or afterward achieved the series of results of that period.

Then as Deputy Chairman of the National Provisional Ruling Council, Julius Maada Bio is credited for inspiring the Leone Stars’ squad of that era to win the Amilcar Cabral trophy twice and to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations twice.

Sierra Leone: move to sell pristine beach and rainforest to China meets backlash

Sierra Leone has agreed to sell 250 acres of pristine beach and rainforest to China in a $55 million deal that would see an industrial fishing harbor built on the site.

The move has sparked outrage from conservationists, human rights and animal welfare groups and local landowners, who have said the project would “destroy pristine rainforest, plunder fish stocks, pollute the marine environment and five individual eco systems that are fish breeding grounds and support endangered bird and wildlife species.”

The details of the deal, first reported by the U.K.’s The Guardian newspaper, remain hazy. Local public policy research organizations the Institute for Legal Research and Advocacy for Justice (ILRAJ) and Namati Sierra Leone have written to the government requesting information on “plans to establish a fish harbour and carry out waste management operations at Black Johnson in the Western Area peninsula, a project funded by the Government of China.”

The groups are requesting copies of legally-mandated environmental and social impact assessments, along with the grant agreement between China and the Sierra Leonean government.

Both the Chinese and Sierra Leonean embassies in London and the Sierra Leonean state house were unavailable for comment when contacted by CNBC.

Black Johnson’s waters are rich in fish and local fishermen supply a substantial portion of the domestic market. Meanwhile, the Western Area Peninsula national park houses many endangered species.

press release from Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Emma Kowa-Jalloh on Monday contends that “the facility to be constructed is a Fish Harbour and not a Fish Mill as portrayed by the social media writers.”

“The objective of the Fish Harbour is to centralise all fishing activities. The government of Sierra Leone has been yearning for a Fish Harbour since the early 1970s, but could not actualise it due to the huge amount of money that is required,” Kowa-Jalloh said.

“With the new shift in government policy for the development of the fisheries sector, the Chinese government has given a grant of US$55m to build this platform.”

The release also asserts that Black Johnson was “the most suitable place for the construction of the facility in terms of bathymetry, social safeguards (minimum resettlement cost) and environmental issues.”

Kowa-Jalloh said the Ministry of Finance had set aside a compensation package of 13.76 billion leones (around $1.34 million) for landowners, and insisted that the sale of the land was intended to “ensure the regular supply of fish” to the local market.

Credit: CNBC

Sierra Leone’s agreement to sell 250 acres of pristine beach and rainforest to China in a $55 million deal has sparked outrage from conservationists, human rights and animal welfare groups and local landowners, who have said the project would “destroy pristine rainforest, plunder fish stocks, pollute the marine environment

FIFA, CAF Presidents meet with Sierra Leone President: talk infrastructural development

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Sport, Ibrahim Nyelenkeh, welcomed the delegation from the football world governing bodies, saying that it was history in the making that the country was hosting the sitting presidents of FIFA and CAF for the first time.

“I am not surprised. You must have heard about government’s assiduous strides and relentless efforts at developing and supporting football from the grassroots to the national level,” he noted, adding that the present government had supported sport, particularly football, more than all others in the history of Sierra Leone.

While introducing the visitors, the President of Sierra Leone Football Association, SLFA, Isha Johansen, said that their visit was as timely and historic as it was meaningful to the country. She thanked them for choosing Sierra Leone as one of their three Africa nation tours, the others being cote d’ivoire and Liberia.

FIFA’s President Infantino told the gathering that it was an honour and a pleasure to be in Sierra Leone, saying that they were very committed to helping and supporting Africa shine in the world.

“We know how important football is in Africa. Football is talent, football is passion in Africa. In Sierra Leone, in particular, football is not just a game, football is life. I think the time has come where we have to move forward and look into the future.

“FIFA and CAF stand for due process, for integrity, for democracy and to make sure that we can once again put aside all negativities that have tarnished the image of football in the country in the last few years. Let us move to promote a positive and united approach because we need unity in this country,” he urged.

The Swiss and Italian national, who has been president at FIFA since 26 February 2016, also called on all stakeholders to work together to make football very attractive and a way of life. He said everyone needed to work together for the development of the country, particularly in Sierra Leone where football was much more important.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino

CAF’s President Motsepe first thanked President Bio for his honesty, integrity and brotherly exchange of ideas, before calling on all to work together and with him in the best interest of football and a beautiful country.

He confessed that the President represented a new breed of leadership not just for Sierra Leone but for Africa, adding that the country had also produced exceptional football players and expressed hope that it would continue to produce great players. He pledged CAF and FIFA’s commitment to supporting Sierra Leone with the requisite infrastructure to host the African Cup of Nations in the not-too-distant future.

In a brief statement, President Bio welcomed the Presidents of FIFA and CAF to his beautiful country, noting that football remained a fashion that the people of his country loved and cherished.

“It is one of the uniting forces in Sierra Leone. We are very polarised when it comes to politics, but when it comes to football you can see the passion, you can see the joy. It is a different Sierra Leone, especially with football,” he assured.

He also stated that normally when passion clashed, there were always bits of challenges, but emphasised that the country looked forward to an SLFA leadership that would move the country as a nation. He advised that the people should not be deprived of the game that every Sierra Leonean loved.

President Bio further stated that besides the politics of football and the few challenges with regard to infrastructure, the people of his country were friendly and good. He called on the leadership of the two world football governing bodies to invest in the infrastructure of the game in the country. “On behalf of the government and people of Sierra Leone, I want to thank you and would like you to come again. Thank you for coming and you are welcome to Sierra Leone,” he concluded

Bar Association President Presents Position Paper on Death Penalty

Presenting the report on Monday, Madam Swallow urged president Dr. Julius Maada Bio to formally pronounce the abolition of the death penalty in Sierra Leone and for the Government to take immediate legislative steps to amend or repeal all existing legislations which provide for death penalty in the country. She said the death penalty has been a contentious and highly debatable issue for decades.

“Death penalty was and still is in some countries accepted as fair punishment by government bodies,” President Swallow said, adding that, “the utilization of capital punishment to right a heinous wrong started since the beginning of civilization, however as humans are dynamic and susceptible to change, the trend gradually changed realising certain shortfalls, which the utilisation of death penalty poses.”

According to her, many strides have been taken towards the abolition of the death penalty in Sierra Leone, stressing that the Government is yet to take concrete steps towards the amendment of the Constitution which provides the legal basis for death penalty.

“SLBA recalls that in its final Report, the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission established by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act 2000, made imperative recommendations, inter alia, for the abolition of the death penalty and the amendment of section 16 (1) of The Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991 to incorporate the principle that the right to life is inviolable,” President Swallow said. 

She averred that the SLBA acknowledges Sierra Leone’s acceptance of the recommendation from the UN Human Rights Council to abolish the death penalty subject to constitutional review in 2011.

Referencing one of the recommendations of the Justice Edmond Cowan led Constitutional Review Committee, she said it was recommended that the death penalty should be abolished.

After her compelling legal justifications for the abolition of the death penalty, President Swallow concluded that there is no evidence in Sierra Leone proving that death penalty is a deterrent capital offences. She said that SLBA strongly believes in the right to life and therefore calls on the Government to take immediate steps to amend all enabling legislations regarding the death penalty.

Receiving the SLBA’s position paper, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Anthony Y. Brewah commended the SLBA’s leadership and assured that the Government is in full support of the abolition of the death penalty.

He said Cabinet has so far approved the Government’s position on same and very soon it will be tabled in the House of Parliament to go through the legislative process.

story credit: Sierra Leone Bar Association